Photo: Lucy Vargas with George and Lillian Gullicksen

Lucy Vargas with George and Lillian Gullicksen. (Photo courtesy of Cousin Carmen Vargas.)

Lucy Vargas with George and Lillian Gullicksen. (Photo courtesy of Cousin Carmen Vargas.)

This is a portrait of Luz “Lucy” Vargas Marin with her niece and nephew, Lillian and George, at Consuelo’s wedding in the early- to mid- 1930s.

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Photo: Vargas Sisters mid-20th Century

Vargas sisters mid-20th Century. (Photo courtesy of Cousin Carmen Vargas.)

Vargas sisters mid-20th Century. (Photo courtesy of Cousin Carmen Vargas.)

The Vargas sisters (from left): Carmen, Genoveva “Geno,” Luz “Lucy,” Nieves “Nancy,” and Consuleo “Chelo.”

Photo of Guadalupe Vargas Marin and Tony Morman

Guadalupe Vargas Marin  and Tony Morman. (Photo courtesy of Cousin Carmen Vargas)

Guadalupe Vargas Marin and Tony Morman. (Photo courtesy of Cousin Carmen Vargas)

This is a photo of Guadalupe “Lupe” Vargas Marin and Tony Morman, whom she married on October 27, 1926, in Harris County, Texas. I have very little information about Guadalupe. She was born on December 9, 1909, in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, to Candelaria Marin Hernandez and Mariano Vargas Ramos, and she died of meningitis at the age of 22. I don’t believe she had any children.

Bio: Atenogenes Vargas Marin

Atenogenes Vargas

Atenogenes Vargas (Photo courtesy Carmen Vargas.)

Atenogenes Vargas Marin was born the first son to Candelaria Marin Hernandez and Mariano Vargas Ramos on July 16, 1901, in Ameca, Jalisco, Mexico. The eldest of nine, he was an adventurous soul and family lore says he was named from a Greek calendar that Candelaria and Mariano had.

At 13, he decided he wanted to join the Mexican Revolution, so he ran off to water their horses when Pancho Villa came through town. Candelaria was firm that he was not to join and sent Mariano after Atenogenes to drag him back home.

Three years later, Atenogenes was off again, this time hopping trains and essentially backpacking into the Western United States. Atenogenes stepped off the train in the U.S. for the first time outside the new jail that had just been built in Gilroy, California. He continued on as far as Montana, where he ended up out of money and hungry from not having eaten for three days. It was freezing cold and a (in his own words) “white man” took pity on him.

After a time, he returned to Mexico, where he ended up working as a policeman, and then he eventually immigrated to California with the rest of the family in 1925. There, he worked as a machinist’s assistant, a Merchant Marine, and in a candle factory in the Mission District of San Francisco.

Atenogenes Vargas

Atenogenes Vargas

He married Alma Reyegonda, who was haunted by a tragic past for much of her life. When she was 18, she played Ding Dong Ditch on her mom. They lived in a two-story apartment at the time, and the second time her mother came downstairs to answer the door, she fell down the stairs and suffered a broken neck. After two weeks in the hospital, Alma’s mother passed away.

As was popular during the era, Atenogenes and Alma liked to drink and stay out late. Before long, they had three children: Art Vargas, Rose Vargas, and Carmen Vargas, all who still live in California.

On a trip to Ameca in 1972, Atenogenes sought out his old stomping grounds and found his long-lost aunt, Maria Marin, who was sitting alone in her home, which lead to a heartwarming reunion. Cousin Carmen has kept this photo of them for some years:

Atenogenes and mysterious cousin. (Photo courtesy Cousin Carmen Vargas)

Atenogenes and mysterious cousin. (Photo courtesy Cousin Carmen Vargas)

Atenogenes eventually died of pneumonia in 1980.

1930s Photo of Candelaria Marin Hernandez and Mariano Vargas Ramos

Candelaria and Mariano Vargas

Candelaria and Mariano Vargas in 1930. (Photo courtesy Cousin Carmen Vargas.)

Candelaria Marin Hernandez and Mariano Vargas Ramos were born in Mexico and came to the United States after their children had immigrated and become established (family lore says that Candelaria insisted on moving after the birth of her first grandchild, George Gullicksen).

I wrote about them before, after seeing a great portrait of them hanging on the wall at Cousin Rose’s house. This photograph is from Rose’s sister, Cousin Carmen, from when we had a get-together ancestry day and swapped stories and photographs.

Candelaria was born in Ameca, Jalisco, Mexico in about 1869 and she died of uterine cancer in San Jose, California, on August 19, 1930.

Mariano was also born in Ameca in November, 1870. When they lived in Mexico, he was a door-to-door salesman and also sold goods out of a small shop on the side of their home. He died during surgery for a bladder infection in Mexico City, D.F. on February 14, 1931.

They would have been married before their first child, Atenogenes, was born in 1901; although, I do not have an exact date. They had nine children over a span of 19 years: Atenojenes (1901), Carmen (1906), Genoveba (1907), Guadalupe (1909), Consuelo (1912), Nieves aka Nancy (1914), Luz aka Lucy (1918), Alfonso (1919), and Luis (1920).

Portraits of Consuelo Vargas Marin

Consuelo Vargas Marin

Consuelo Vargas Marin’s wedding portrait. (Photo courtesy of Cousin Carmen Vargas)

Consuelo “Chelo” Vargas Marin was married twice and lived and loved fully all her life. I remember going to her home in the Mission District in San Francisco for a party — I think it was for Thanksgiving — when I was a teenager. She was in her 90s at the time and her sisters Nancy and Lucy were helping host. They were all dolled up with their wigs, and I think it was Lucy who was wearing a leopard print shirt with tight black leggings. Some of their conversation was in Spanish as one of them carried a platter of tamales to the table, but I also remember them talking in English about going dancing and their “boyfriends.”

Consuelo was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, on March 11, 1912. She immigrated to the United States with some of her sisters in 1925 and they worked in the canneries in San Francisco. She and her sisters would frequently walked in the Mission District.

She was listed as single in the 1930 census, so she would have married Clemente Cruz (photo above) sometime after that; although, I don’t have an exact date. Her second marriage was to James Jones. I’ll try to add more information here when I find it, but I’m lacking dates and locations at the moment. If anyone has additional details or memories to share in the comments, I would love to know more.

It was noted in her obituary that, “She was always known for her good cooking skills in the kitchen; no one ever left her home hungry. Although Chelo never had any children of her own, she has been a mother figure for many in her large family. She stepped in when tragedy struck, providing a loving home to children whose mother had been lost.”

She died January 21, 2005.

Consuelo "Chelo" Vargas Marin

Consuelo “Chelo” Vargas Marin. (Photo courtesy Cousin Carmen Vargas.)

Portrait of Carmen Vargas

Carmen Vargas

Carmen Vargas (Photo courtesy of Carmen Vargas)

My great grandmother, Carmen Vargas Marin, immigrated to the United States from Mexico in the 1920s. She was born to Mariano Vargas Ramos and Candelaria Marin Hernandez on July 4, 1906, in Ameca, Jalisco, Mexico.

She entered the U.S. through Laredo, Texas, in 1925, and married Pvt. Otto Gullickson in Harris County, Texas in 1926. By 1927, they were living in San Francisco, where their first son George Gullicksen was born.

In all, she bore four children: George, Lillian Gullicksen (1929), Carmel Gullicksen (1934), and Charles Hubert Gullicksen (1940).

She was noted in the 1930 census as living at 88B Chenery Street in San Francisco, where they paid $25 rent and lived with George and Lillian. It was also noted that she spoke Spanish in the home.

My mother remembers her as a very nice woman who would usually dye her hair a dark red. Once, something went wrong with the dyeing process and it was instead colored a bright fuchsia ahead of a family gathering.

Carmen passed away on October 30, 1984, in Santa Clara.

Note: The photo above was given to me by Cousin Carmen, also named Carmen Vargas. She is the daughter of my great uncle, Atenojenes Vargas Marin. (Thanks, Carmen!)

 

Photo contributed by A.M. "Toon" Blokand.

Bio: Klaas Siersema

I recently got a message from my uncle asking what I might know about Klaas Siersema, my great-grandfather. Well, the truth is I know a lot, I’ve been remiss in writing down all in one place, and I would love to know more. So, here goes. If anyone has additional information about Klaas Siersema, please let me know in the comments!

Thanks for the kick in the pants, Uncle Mike!

Klaas Siersema.

Klaas Siersema.

Klaas Nicholas Siersema was born on September 15, 1895, in Groningen, Netherlands, to Arentje Vermaas and Gerrit Siersema.

Klaas was the youngest of three siblings. He had two older sisters, Helena Elisabeth “Leentje” Siersema and Elisabeth Helena “Bets” Siersema. Leentje eventually died of starvation during World War II and Bets was rumored to be a medium who could speak to the dead much like her grandfather.

Arentje left Gerrit, who was supposed to be a terrible drunk, taking their children with her when they were still young. She later worked in a shop, but it was likely she went to stay with relatives and did not wholly support herself and her children. It’s possible she stayed with Jacoba Antoinetta van Eijsden in Brielle (I like this theory because in 1909 when Jacoba died, she left half her house and courtyard to Arentje). Jacoba also left Klaas 50 gilders, according to the record Cousin Anje found online.

Mystery Photo No. 3. (Courtesy Philip Siersema)

Family Photo. (Courtesy Philip Siersema)

Klaas would go on to become a career military man. He had joined the Royal Netherlands military by the age of 20, and I believe he was a Vaandrig (officer cadet) when photographed with fellow soldiers in Kampen in 1915.

He was promoted to Tweede-Luitenant (second lieutenant) on September 25, 1917, by the Ministry of War–although this was during WWI, the Netherlands was neutral in the war.

After what was in part a long-distance courtship, Klaas married Helena Frederika de Wit at the Netherlands Reformed Church in Hertogenbosch, where her father was a highly respected member of the congregation. According to their calling cards, Klaas and Helena both lived in Hertogenbosch prior to their nuptials. At 27 years old, Klaas was listed on their wedding certificate as a First Lieutenant of the Infantry. They wed on August 28th, 1923, and he was eight years her senior.

Wedding portrait of Klaas Siersema and Helena "Lenie" Frederika de Wit.

Wedding portrait of Klaas Siersema and Helena “Lenie” Frederika de Wit.

Their first son, Johan Nico “Hans” Siersema, was born in Venlo a little more than a year later on October 9, 1924.

Antony Dirk “Tonny” Siersema, their second son, was born on November 15, 1927.

The death of Tonny on August 1, 1929 precipitated Klaas and Helena’s eventual divorce in that it brought the family doctor deeper into their lives. Helena would go on to have a committed relationship with the doctor for about 50 years.

Klaas remarried to Maria Wilhelmina van Erp, whom he remained married to until his death.

Klaas and Wilhelmina van Erp's wedding portrait.

Klaas and Wilhelmina van Erp’s wedding portrait.

Together, they supported Je Maintiendrai, one of the most prominent underground newspapers in the Netherlands during WWII.

By March, 1938, Klaas had achieved the rank of Kapitein (captain) of 2e Compagnie II Bataljon in the 6e Regiment Infanterie, according to a newspaper clipping. He was photographed with fellow military personnel on July 15 with three stars pinned on either side of his collar.

In 1942, Klaas was captured by the Nazis as a prisoner of war. He was held at Oflag XIII-B, a prisoner of war camp for officers that was at the time in Hammelburg, Germany. There or sometime after, I believe he drew this sketch. He also wrote letters to his wife.

Following his release, his son Hans also escaped from a POW camp. According to one family story, when Hans returned home, Klaas saw the car pull up outside and immediately went into his backyard to hide in the bushes. He thought the Nazis had returned for him, but it was only his son returning home.

Klaas is said to have done important work at the Militair Revalidatie Centrum Aardenburg, where as Director of the institute he helped pioneer new methods of treatment for shell-shock soldiers. According to my step-grandmother, those suffering from what we now call PTSD could live on the grounds with their families, which was unheard of at the time. The hospital does cutting edge medical work to this day. Klaas was succeeded in his position at the MRC by Lcol. Th.A.J. van Erp, according to A.M. “Toon” Blokand.

In 1952, Klaas was named an Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau, which honors selective individuals for their contributions to society through either civilian or military efforts.

KlaasMilDoc-A

Klaas died of a heart attack while reading “Mein Kampf” at the age of 60 in Doorn on October 14, 1955. I’m not sure if that phrase means he was literally reading it, but that’s how I’ve heard it referenced. My mom still has the book with  his bookmark in it.

Click on the photos below to enlarge them.

Click here to see the images Klaas kept in his pocket photo book.

Visiting the Netherlands for the first time

 I am visiting the Netherlands and exploring Amsterdam with my mom ahead of a reunion with the Lopes-Cardozo side of the family in Loosdrecht. Amsterdam is a beautiful, bustling city with many canals, tastey sea food, something like a million bicycles, and excellent public transportation. 

Since arriving, I’ve been taking advantage of vacation hours and sleeping in and then we’ve leisurely ventured out into the city. We visited the Dutch Resistance Museum, where we learned about how the Royal Family stood against the Nazis from afar, factory workers would spontaneously strike in solidarity, even though they were sometimes executed for it, and about the 1,300 resistance newspapers popped up throughout the war. The museum had a couple copies of Je Maintiendrai, which was exciting to see, since it was something I blogged about before. 


Also, just seeing the waterways and buildings makes it easier to imagine what life would have been like when my ancestors lived here. 

It’s funny, but since what I know of them is usually text on paper or black and white photos, their lives have less color in my mind’s eye than they did in actuality. 

Tomorrow, we will get to meet Cousin Anje in the flesh (very exciting since she’s helped me so much with this blog over the years), and then we’ll be off to Loosdrecht, and Paris (just for fun).

To share more of my trip with you,  here are some of the just-for-fun photos I have captured so far…

A different perspective of the not-so-secret secret Begijnhof Courtyard.

Trams running through downtown.

A quick peek through a cheese shop window.

Europe has some striking graffiti.

It wasn’t even commuter hour yet and the streets were filled. This is just after a line of cyclists passed by.

In Vondel Park, lockets with names inscribed line the iron on this small bridge.

Religious sculptures in the wall of abuilding in Begijnhof Courtyard.

If you kept reading this far, you deserve to see me make a fool of myself over seeing my first Dutch windmill. You are welcome.